When the next Apple iPhone software, iOS 14.5, is released, it will have a bunch of new features. One, the ability to unlock your iPhone fast using your Apple Watch, is extremely cool, and in these mask-wearing days, can’t come soon enough.
Actually, there really isn’t long to wait now. Although we don’t know exactly when it’s going to be released, this coming week seems a racing certainty, perhaps as soon as Tuesday when Apple holds its special event at 10AM EDT.
It could be later in the week, but either way, it’s very, very close.
I’ve been putting the software through its public beta paces and I keep coming back to Unlock with Apple Watch.
Here’s everything you need to know about this brilliant feature.
Unlock with Apple Watch is designed to save time
Not to mention being extremely convenient. At the moment, if you’re wearing a mask and look at your Face ID-enabled iPhone, the phone will quickly realize that part of your face is covered and show the passcode screen much sooner than it previously did. This is good, but how much better if you didn’t have to type in that code or remove your mask?
So, with iOS 14.5, if you’re wearing an Apple Watch, the iPhone and Watch talk to each other to confirm it’s you. And the iPhone unlocks.
Set-up is easy
You need an Apple Watch, obviously, and it has to be running the next watchOS version, which is 7.4. This will doubtless land at the same time as the iOS update, so get ready for an hour or two of bringing your devices up to speed. Simply go to Settings, choose Face ID and Passcode and choose Unlock with Apple Watch. Then, no, hang on, that’s it.
Note that your Apple Watch needs to have a passcode on it, be on your wrist and unlocked.
Next time you want to open your iPhone but you’re masked, you just go through the exact same process you usually do. That is, raise your phone to your face and look at it. It unlocks.
The main difference between unlock the conventional way and this one is that the Apple Watch, keen to let you know it’s doing its job, taps you on the wrist as if to say, “I’ve unlocked your iPhone. Cool, huh?” Which it is.
How quick is it?
It’s quick. Not quite as fast as Face ID without a mask in the way, but there’s a lot going on as the two devices talk to each other.
How near do the iPhone and Watch have to be?
You’ll know that to unlock your Apple Watch, you can just unlock your iPhone and the Watch will follow suit. In that case, the two gadgets can be quite some distance apart. But here, to prevent mishaps, the distance is much, much smaller.
This means someone in the next room can’t unlock your iPhone, for instance.
So, it’s secure, then?
Absolutely. Here are two reasons why.
First, a message appears on your Watch screen that confirms what’s going on, saying, in my case, “David’s iPhone 12 Pro Max Unlocked by this Apple Watch”.
But, underneath, there’s a button marked, Lock iPhone. So, if you need to lock your phone again instantly, you can.
Second, the Watch can unlock the iPhone screen but nothing more than that. It can’t be used for Apple Pay or to open those apps which are locked with Face ID, such as 1 Password or banking apps, for instance. You’ll need your passcode for those.
Isn’t that a problem about Apple Pay? I may be trying to pay instore
I hear what you’re saying, but no. Much better that no unauthorized payments can take place.
Plus, let’s remember, with the Apple Watch you have the perfect payment device that doesn’t require facial recognition. Just double-press the Side button on the Watch and you can use Apple Pay there.
One More Thing
This is brilliant. If, God forbid, someone grabbed your iPhone and ran off with it, the system is very smart. It can detect that the iPhone and Watch have been separated very quickly and the iPhone automatically locks itself.
There are lots of other ways the next iPhone software will grab your attention, and it’s not long to go until we can get our hands on it.